2003+ Jetta OEM HID Manual Leveling Mod
Do-It-Yourself FAQ/Guide
by Nitrowolf

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After purchasing a set of 2003 Jetta OEM HID lights, I came to discover that the Manual Leveling was a little more difficult to install than expected. So I searched the web for an install guide, including VW Vortex, Fred's TDI Club, and various other places. I found a couple of FAQs, but they did not conform to reality, or at least the reality of the OEM HIDs that I had.

So I set off to figure this beast out myself. In retrospect, it wasn't that hard, as long as you know what to look for. So that's why I made this guide; Hopefully no one else will have to go through what I did to get the manual leveling to work properly.

If, like me, Bills Web Space/GTI_Matador PFD does not apply to you, then this DIY probably will. The PDF is next to impossible to decipher given the pictures, especially if you don't know what you're looking at. Proper electronic schematic symbols would have been more helpful in that situation.

The VWVortex thread, here, whas the most helpful link I found. But it was somewhat difficult to follow and lacked pictures.


What you need before you begin

2x OEM Jetta 2003+ HID lights
2x 10 - 12 Pin wiring adapter (Order the one from VW Vortex*, or if you can't get that, order this.)
1x Euro Dimmer Switch with HID Rheostat
1x HID Leveling wiring kit
1x #1 Phillips Screw Driver
1x Wire Cutters
1x Wire Strippers
1x Butt Connector Crimper (or a pair of pliers and a strong hand. All you one handed AOL chatroom typers should be good to go)
2x 18 - 22 Gauge Butt Connectors

Make sure you have all of the above, or understand what you can do without if you're industrious before you go any further.

* There was someone on VW Vortex selling a pre-wired 10 - 12 pin adapter that already had pin 1 to pin 11 wired. I can't find that thread any longer, so I can't give a link. If you know what thread it is, please let me know!


Step by Step instructions - Click on any picture to see the full size, high resolution picture.

What you should see

This is what you should see when you open up the back of the HID enclosure. You must use a phillips screwdriver to get into the HID bulb, igniter and motor area.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO OPEN THE BULB / MOTOR / IGNITER COMPARTMENT TO DO THE MOD.

It is only open to show you what's in there. There's no need to open it up and it's advisable not to do so.

If your light does not look like this, don't proceed any further!

Wire harness closeup

This is the first wire you will be working with. It is indicated by the arrows.

You will NOT be cutting any other wire coming from this set of wires.

   
Cut the first wire

Cut the wire up closer to the ballast. You will be connecting this wire to a black wire coming from the leveling motor, so you need some extra length.

If you are absolutely positive you will never be returning these lights to the stock configuration for auto-leveling, you can cut it super close to the ballast. Otherwise, leave a little slack so that you can crimp the wire back together if you ever need to.

   
Strip off 1/2 inch of the wiring jacket Now strip off about 1/2" of the jacket on the long end of the wire (the end that's connected to the housing. NOT the end that is connected to the ballast.
   
Find, cut and strip the black wire

Now here comes the hard part (Just kidding). Since the space is so tight, it's hard to get a good picture. However, you need to look at the leveling motor. There will be a black wire coming FROM the leveling motor going TO the Ballast.

This is very important, so pay attention to detail here!

Cut the black wire leading FROM the leveling motor TO the Ballast. As with the yellow wire on Pin 11, cut the wire closer to the ballast, but leave some slack for returning it to stock if you wish.

Again, strip off about 1/2" of the jacket to expose the wire.

Be absolutely sure you are cutting the black wire FROM the leveling motor TO the ballast. The other Black wire is NOT the one you want to cut.

   
Connect the two wires Now, connect the two ends you've stripped together with a butt connector. You should have a wire going from Pin 11 on the housing straight through to the leveling motor.
   
Connect power!

Get the Vampire Connector you gathered up at the beginning of this document. Most (if not all) vampire connectors have a "stop" on the inside of the inner channel. You need to get a razor or something similar to cut the stop out. What you need is a vampire connector that has two straight through tubes.

Once you've done that, put the black wire from Pin 1 on the inside channel and the thick yellow wire from Pin 6 on inside the outer channel. Be sure you are connecting the proper wires together. The black wire from Pin 1 should go to the leveling motor, and the thick yellow wire from Pin 6 should go to the ballast.

Once you have both of them inside the vampire connector, clamp it down with a pair of pliers. Be sure that the barbs pierce the jacket of the smaller black wire.

This step is supplying power to the leveling motor. Without this step, or performing this step improperly will either render the leveling inoperable, or possibly damage your lights permanently.

Pinout

Now you've finished the the first light. Repeat this process with the other light.

Once you've done that, come back to this spot and continue on.

   
Leveling wires

At this point in the installation, you should have both headlights rewired and the wiring kit strung through the firewall and the single leveling pins run to each headlight.

Inside the cabin, you should have the fuse panel cover (not just the door) completely off of the dash.

 

   

THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT. READ THIS BEFORE DOING ANYTHING WITH THE 3 PIN HARNESS.

At this point, you will want to somehow remove the wires & pins from your current dash dimmer rheostat with only 3 connectors on it.

This is going to be problematical at best for you. If you have the tool required to remove the connector, USE IT. I don't know of anyone with this tool, and I don't have one. So what I had to do was carefully cut away the housing of the 3 pin rheostat connector until I could extract the pins, in tact. This is very important. The pins are VERY fragile and will bend and become useless if you handle them too roughly.

Before you remove the wires, be sure to note their orientation. When you insert the pins into the new 6 pin harness for the new rheostat, be sure to insert them in the same place and same order as the other 3 pin harness.

THIS STEP IS VERY IMPORTANT. READ THIS BEFORE DOING ANYTHING WITH THE 3 PIN HARNESS.

 

Light switch and red wire

Remove your light switch (press in on the dial and turn, then pull the whole assembly out of the dash). You can disconnect the harness if you like, or leave it connected.

The wiring kit's 6 pin connector should be strung up to the rheostat position next to the light switch. There should be a red wire coming out of the 6 pin plug.

Strip off 1/4" of the jacket on the red wire that connects to the 6 pin plug that plugs into the rheostat.

   
Tap the wire

Next, you'll want to tap the red wire from the Rheostat harness into the Yellow/Red wire (NOT the Yellow/Green wire).

   
Push everything back into place

Now, push the light switch back into place.

Reach your hand into the space above the fuse box and feed the 6 pin plug for the rheostat through the hole for the dimmer rheostat. Connect it to your new combo rheostat you purchased before starting this project.

Slide the new rheostat into it's place, it should click.

 

   
This is where this DIY FAQ may break down, depending on what sort of 10 - 12 pin adapter you have. You're going to have to use your brain a little bit here!

Some 10-12 pin harnesses do NOT have anything connected from Pin 1 on the 10 pin side to Pin 11 on the 12 pin side. If you are one of the lucky ones that has a harness that has a pin from Pin 1 to Pin 11, congratulations!

Get a very small flathead screwdriver and pry out the grommet in pin 1 on the headlight wire attached to the car. Mine was green.

Once you have that pried out, look on the side of the plug, there should be a purple or possibly orange plastic retainer and an orange rubber retainer. Pull the orange rubber retainer out the top and the purple plastic connector out the side of the housing.

Now slip the pin of the leveling wire into pin 1 of the stock, 10 pin plug that is attached to the car's electrical system.

If you have a 10 - 12 pin adapter that already has the wire from Pin 1 to pin 11, you're done. Plug everything in and you should be good to go.

If, like me, you have an adapter that does NOT have any wire running from Pin 1 to Pin 11, or if the wire from Pin 1 is running somewhere else, you're going to need to make it happen. If you have a wire in Pin 1 already and it's going somewhere else, and there's another wire in Pin 11 on the 12 pin side, just cut the two wires and connect the wire from pin 1 to pin 11.

Again, if your adapter is like mine, there was no wire in Pin 11 or Pin 1, so I had to make my own.

I do NOT recommend the following procedure unless you are comfortable and confident when working with wires and electricity. You must also be very good at using a soldering iron. This is a kludge from hell, but it works and it's solid if done properly. It's not pretty, though.

I'm not going to describe every step here in detail, because this is advanced wiring, and if you can't figure it out with brief descriptions, you probably shouldn't be attempting this anyway.

   
Soldered wire kludge
Insert

Cut a length of wire long enough to reach from Pin 1 to Pin 11 on the 10 - 12 pin adapter.

Strip about 1/4" of jacket off the wire, twist the wire up (don't use solid core wire, use only straded).

Tin the wire with a generous amount of solder, so that it's a pretty solid mass of solder.

Now get a pair of of pliers and flatted out the end of the wire so that it's in the same basic shape of the pins that are in the adapter. You'll have to mold the solder around a bit to get it to be the right shape.

Insert the end of the wire with solder into the 10 pin side of the adpater in the Pin 1 position. As you can see, it looks like the other pins.

There must be enough solder on the wire to keep it stiff when in serting into the female end. If it bends or buckles you may get an incomplete or intermittent connection. Given the nature and cost of these lights, you don't want an arc that might blow the motor. Make sure it's secure!

   
Female end

The other end of the wire needs to be stripped about 1/3" or 1/2" inch.

Twist it up and insert it into the 12 pin end of the adapter in the Pin 11 position. Once the wire is through and you have 1/4" or so of wire sticking out, fan out the strands so they cover a good portion of the hole.

Pull the wire gently back through the harness until you only have a small amount of fanned wire covering the hole. It's important that you get the wire as evenly distributed around the hole as possible.

BE VERY CAREFUL, THOUGH. You do NOT want even a single strand contacting any other pins that may be in the surrounding holes. It's a careful balance, so take extra time with this step.

   
Result

This is what you should end up with. Do this procedure for both side of the car.

When inserting the wires, be sure to take extra care and be sure the soldered end slides into the female end on the 10 pin side; make sure it doesn't buckle.

Also be sure when inserting the 12 pin end into the headlight housing that the wires don't retreat too far into the hole and that they make solid contact with the pin that is going into that hole. This might be hard to do, depending on what kind of wire you used (a thicker gauge, stiffer wire is better, but I just used some stuff I had lying around).

 

   

Now you really are done! Just plug everything in, bolt everything up, and your new manual leveling should be working.

When I first plugged in the leveling harness, the motors didn't appear to move the lights at all (they just whirred). After fiddling with it for awhile and moving the rheostat through it's full range with no result, I was getting pretty upset. I finally tapped/banged the top of the light housing where the motor was, and I think the worm gear finally engaged.

I had to do this for BOTH lights, so it wasn't an anomoly of just one light.

You may have to tap/bang on your light housing a couple of times while the motor is moving to get the worm gears to engage. Don't bang too hard, obviously. Just enough to motivate the motor to do the right thing.